Thursday, May 26, 2011

White House Roundtable

Walking through several security checkpoints, I entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) located next door to the West Wing.  The EEOB houses the majority of the White House staff.   I took an elevator up and was ushered into a room carpeted in deep red with a familiar rich blue backdrop.  Feeling like I had walked onto the set of television’s The West Wing, I sat in awe of the many Obama staff who represented the Departments of Education, Justice, Human and Health Services, Defense and State.
When I accepted this invitation, I didn’t realize what a historic event this would be.  But listening to LGBT Directors, Deputy Directors and various other staff that work for President Obama, the common thread that I heard was how important this day was to intersect both LGBT issues and those concerns of the Asian Pacific Islander community.
The two and a half hours flew by. Five youth shared their moving stories. LGBT staff serving the President shared their personal stories and updates on what is being done to support the LGBT/API community. I brought up issues of alternative safe schools in the form of charters and was able to make connections with a Deputy Director from the Department of Education and a Senior Adviser on White House Initiatives. I want to continue discussion on how to create more safe places for youth to get their high school diploma like the program we have operating at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. 
As I left the meeting, what I remember most is this . . . each of us who are standing up for equality, whether LGBT, straight ally or Asian Pacific Islander . . . each LGBT individual courageously living their life as their true selves, bring hope not only to those in our nation, but those around the world.  Our voices and our presence truly matter.  Let us never be silent . . . .

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Coming Out

Last week I was asked to give a mother's perspective at a "Coming Out" workshop.  API Equality - LA, a non profit Asian Pacific Islander LGBT organization developed this workshop in response to what they saw as a need.  I am not sure if I can accurately describe how these four hours opened my eyes to the anguish, fear and conflict that rips at the heart of those who contemplate revealing their true selves.  Will my parents disown me?  Will I lose my job?  Will my friends abandon me or make fun of me?  On top of that I heard about the religious and cultural layers that further threaten to shame and ostracize LGBT individuals from family, friends, churches and co-workers . . . communities that we all need to belong to, so we do not feel alienated and alone.

In my speech, I couldn't help but cry when I shared my story and youth in the audience cried or struggled to hold back tears. I knew the fear and uncertainty in their hearts, was the same feelings my son faced daily until he was able to ask me to accept and love him as the man he was meant to be. 

I so admire all of those brave souls that are "out" in the community inspiring others to be their true selves and giving hope to LGBT individuals and families everywhere.  I want Two Spirits, One Heart to be part of this hope.  I see a world guided less by fear and shame . . . .and more by love and acceptance.  Please see that picture with me.  Let's change the world one heart at a time.